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There is an important and urgent need for housing at the present time.
I think what I would like to ask you to remember-and I am sure you already know as well as I do--that what we mayors are talking about is not an arithemetical need, it is a very human need. In my city in the last 3 years, we lost 40 lives from fire. I can't tell you how many of those lives would have been saved had they been in adequate housing. I know you gentlemen in the Senate are just as concerned about it as every mayor in this room.
I want to add my plea to the urgency of these proposals at your earliest consideration. Thank you.
Mayor Alioto. We would like to call on the mayor of Norfolk, Va., Mayor Roy Martin.
MAYOR ROY MARTIN, NORFOLK, VA. Mayor Martin. Thank you, Mayor Alioto. As the mayor said, I had the pleasure of having the Legislative Action Committee visit Norfolk for several days early in the week. I think we have a program there, Senator, that we can show has been successful.
Actually this redevelopment program, which was started back in 1949, has never had any scandal or failures. It has been a complete success. When we started this program, over 40 percent of our housing was substandard. Today we have gotten it down to 15 percent. We have built over 5,000 low-rent units of houses. We have put over 4,000 more in rehabilitation. We showed our program to these gentlement in Norfolk yesterday when we took a tour. We showed them a project where the housing authority had acquired 40 to 50 percent of the land. Then the moratorium came, and there was no way to complete the project.
Here we have properties that have been acquired and the national program has been stopped. I want to emphasize what Mayor Alioto has said. We feel there is an urgency in trying to see that, while the administration and the Congress are working out the details on an overall program, we not be left in a position whereby we cannot continue with the programs we have underway.
Again, I would like to say for the city of Norfolk, I will put up one example of a housing program, Senator, one that you have supported during the years. It has been successful. It is a program that can work if it is properly handled. I would like to urge in every way that Congress consider carrying on many of these programs until we can work out a permanent program that will be acceptable to Congress and the administration.
Mayor ALIOTO. The cochairman of the Legislative Action Committee is the distinguished Mayor of Gary, Ind., Mr. Richard Hatcher.
MAYOR RICHARD HATCHER, GARY, IND. Mayor HATCHER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to be as brief as possible, because you are going to hear several mayors here this morning, and we don't want to all repeat the same words. Basically, our message is the same. I would like to very briefly tell you about a few of the things that are happening in Gary and that have been happening in Gary.
In 1968, our community renewal program indicated that about 30 percent of all of our housing in Gary was substandard. We set a goal at that time to build about 15,000 new units of low- and moderateincome housing over a period of some 10 years, about 1,500 units per year. We have been doing pretty well under many of the programs that presently are under attack.
We have had some outstanding successes with some of those programs. Public agencies and private developers working together in all of the Federal programs such as 235, 236, multifamily rental housing, 221(d)(3), and many others, including leased public housing. At the same time, it was impossible to develop an effective housing program without an effective community renewal program going right along with it.
Under renewal, we were able to install sewers to develop other facilities such as neighborhood facilities at the same time. In 1972, that whole process was slowed down by changes in national policy, and we have only been able to continue with those projects that were in the pipeline since 1971.
Today, that process is in danger of coming to a complete halt, as are many other social and economic programs with which we have been working very hard at the local level in the hopes of correcting many of our problems, problems of long standing. What does that mean for us, and what does that mean for the people of Gary?
First of all, it means that we have been producing somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1,000 new units of housing a year. We won't be able to come anywhere close to that under the present circumstances. Second, of course, it means that jobs that were created by that kind of building will be lost. Third, it means that many, many people in that community, unfortunately some of whom have suffered many frustrations in the course of their lifetime, will have one more frustration to live with. Of course, to the city itself, it means that we will lose substantial tax revenues as a result.
It seems to me that all possible efforts are needed at this time to shore up our national housing program. We need, as has already been suggested, a program that looks to our long-term needs. Perhaps there are things in the administration's bill that might work for us. We don't know, and apparently not too many other people know, at this point. But our problem, I think, is a more immediate one. We cannot wait until 1975 or 1976. We need some kind of interim programing that will not allow us to lose the momentum that we have been able to build up over the last few years. We are certainly here this morning urging this committee to give serious thought to that particular factor.
It seems to me that we are now in a position where we have lost about 6 months in terms of timelag, and it seems that we may even lose more time. Most housing programs require anywhere from 6 to 12 or even 18 months or longer leadtime before the program in fact can be effectuated. So from that standpoint, I am hopeful that we can see some immediate action that will allow us to continue with the successes.
I know there have been failures around the country, Mr. Chairman, but I suspect that for every failure in these programs, in any one of these programs, you can find at least 100 successes. I know that in our community we can show you successes in every one of the programs that have been mentioned.
Thank you very much.
Mayor Alioto. Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence, I would next like to call upon my California colleague, Mayor Norman Mineta.
MAYOR NORMAN MINETA, SAN JOSE, CALIF.
Mayor MINETA. Thank you, Mr. Alioto.
As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community Development Committee, I can tell you that for the past 3 years, the No. 1 priority of that committee has been the development of a community development block grant. As a mayor and as the committee chairman, I can assure you that we cannot afford any additional delay in the development of such a consolidated grant program. Programmatically,
we are ready for the development of the community block grant. The need for the activities which such a program supports is approaching desperation in many communities. Further, in our judgment, the obstacles blocking obtaining another year's funding for the existing programs seem insurmountable.
We are dependent upon this committee to act now. As the committee knows, we prefer on many of the key points the congressional as opposed to the administration version of the community development bills.
In the area of housing, the U.S. Conference of Mayors supported the Senate bill last year. We support the existing housing programs. We would support a similar effort this year. This year, we would also urge the committee to consider including in such an omnibus housing bill, two items:
One is programmatic linkage when operated at the national and local levels between the local housing programs and the local community development programs.
Second, provisions which would permit the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allocate housing units to local government based on local needs as set forth in locally developed multiyear housing plans.
Mr. Chairman, S. 2182 would be a great step toward providing the local flexibility which we need in this area.
Let me capsulize my reaction to the President's housing message and S. 2507, by saying that I am discouraged that after so much study and so long a delay, so little came forth.
We had expected on S. 7 to see a specific set of proposals. However, none really came forth.
After looking at the legislation, we are disturbed that the President is proposing that Congress acknowledge as a matter of national policy that the housing programs have failed, that he is asking the Congress to adopt in advance a housing allowance program, the details of which we have not yet seen.
Furthermore, that he proposes abandoning the national housing goals.
The substance of the President's message and the legislation do not warrant really taking more of the committee's time. However,
I have appended a separate statement on my reaction to the President's bill.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, let me say that today you have before you a group of anxious, concerned, and frustrated city officials who are extremely worried that they may be caught in the middle of a power struggle between the Congress and the administration, a struggle which may ultimately produce nothing in terms of legislation, but which will most certainly damage our capacity to deliver services in the city.
Thank you very much.
Mayor Alioto. Mr. Chairman, there is a little bit of sadness in the next presentation. We are going to present perhaps for the last time before this committee the distinguished mayor of New York. I want to say before presenting him that he was actually the original moving force behind setting up this Legislative Action Committee for the Conference of Mayors. I think we can see now that Mayor Lindsay was regarded as the articulate spokesman for the cities in the sixties and seventies, and the man who made the greatest contribution to the solution of those problems.
I am delighted to present the mayor of the city of New York.
The CHAIRMAN. I know, not too many years ago he was a member of the establishment here in Washington. We welcome you back.
MAYOR JOHN LINDSAY, NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. Mayor LINDSAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. After Mayor Alioto's introduction, I ought to be quiet. I can be
In New York City in 1972 and 1971, we broke all records in the history of the city for numbers of units that went into construction, federally tax-supported housing, both low income and middle income. In 1972, we moved 35,000 units into construction, and in 1971, 22,000 units into construction.
We have in our pipeline right now 70,000 units. We can move by June 1974, 20,000 of these units into construction, depending on whether or not the trickle of 236 and public housing backup money is available. I don't have to advise the distinguished members of this committee that, since the moratorium, we have all been on a bootstrap brinksmanship, day-to-day operation, to acquire Federal funding for housing that is already going into the ground, having no idea whether or not the full financing will come through.
This housing has worked. We have had a lot of problems with established housing programs in the United States. They are not easy. We have to pump a lot of local money into all federally supported housing, including public housing, because of cost limitations, design quality, and various other things.
All of us have had various problems with scattered siting. Even middle-income housing is somewhat suspect because of racial fears. Nevertheless, notwithstanding, even with all that, it has been a massively important series of programs, with enough flexibility in it--not enough—but enough flexibility in it so that with might, and muscle, and good talent we have been able to move a lot of housing forward.
Without it, we would be in far more serious shape than we would be now.
There is no way in the central cities, particularly the larger ones, that you can solve the problem of shelter without both construction and rehab. In none of these cities is there a vacancy ratio that you can live with. In New York City, it is well under 2 percent. There is no possible way the problem of shelter can be handled unless you attack the problem of new housing, which means construction and the problem of rehabilitating of old housing.
Yet, I wish to say that it may well be that the most difficult problem the Nation has ahead of it is again to rediscover the best possible way to preserve housing stock in the central cities particularly.
No ideal solution has yet been discovered by anybody, but to say because of the fits and starts of some of those programs, everything should be abandoned and we should forget about the national responsibility to move forward in the area of shelter would be a disaster for the country
Indeed, I would predict that if, as a result of the administration's refusal to support any meaningful program for construction and rehab, that 2 or 3 years from now, the country is going to be in the most serious kind of crisis, and it may not even be discovered until then.
Finally, I should like to say something about the housing allowance, the strategy that is projected for late 1975 or 1976, 18 months from now approximately, as an experiment first for the elderly, as I understand it. We haven't seen the "whites of the eyes” of it yet. We don't fully understand it; I am sure that HUD doesn't fully understand it or know exactly where they are heading with it.
I myself—and this is purely a personal viewpoint-I am very skeptical that it can work at all. It may even have to create necessarily more bureaucracy and more standard setting than anything you
have now. Anyone who has any experience at all, using HEW money in the shelter area, knows the problems that causes, the pushing up of rents, the adding to deterioration. It is a difficult road to pursue.
I would like to echo what the cochairman of the action committee said. It is so risky to stop everything in the tried programs that we have had in the past, while we point to an experiment in 1975 or 1976, which experiment itself is already doubtful and could be a difficult thing to do.
Lastly, let us understand that for the foreseeable future, the private sector is not going to be able to, and probably won't even try to construct or to rehab housing in these large industrial States, particularly in the central city areas, at costs people can afford either to buy or to rent. It is simply impossible. That means that the United States of America has got to assume an obligation. That is nothing new.
The country has assumed that obligation since way back in the early 1930's. Every country has had to do that in the Western community, in the Western World. That, it seems to me, is the reality of what we are faced with here. To abandon that national Federal responsibility for shelter for Americans at this point, which I think is the main thrust of what the administration would do, would I think, spell disaster and crisis for the future.